Friday April 12th, 2024 7:34AM

Atlanta United blanks Orlando City

By ATLUTD Communications

ATLANTA — Atlanta United defeated Orlando City SC, 2-0, Sunday night in front of 42,631 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Saba Lobjanidze scored his first goal of the season, while Giorgos Giakoumakis, fresh off his hat trick performance last week, tallied his team-leading fourth goal and his first assist of the campaign. Brad Guzan also became the first player to reach 200 appearances across all competitions for the club, while he kept his first clean sheet of the season.

Atlanta United started the match fast and found the opening goal in the ninth minute. Orlando turned the ball over on the left side near midfield while Giakoumakis muscled it away from a defender. The forward sent a perfectly-weighted through ball with the outside of his right boot which met Lobjanidze in-stride on the right flank. Lobjanidze stood his defender up before darting towards the end line and firing a shot across goal and inside the far post for the 1-0 lead.

A second goal nearly came in the 26th minute which started with a crunching tackle by Derrick Williams just outside Atlanta's 18-yard box. Lobjanizde ran on to the loose ball and one-timed a long pass which found Thiago Almada running into the penalty area. The Argentine evaded one defender and attempted to slip a pass to Giakoumakis near the penalty spot, but had it poked away at the last moment just before the striker had an open look at goal.

Atlanta produced a pair of scoring chances from corner kicks just before the half. Williams had a header in the 39th minute tipped over the bar by Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese. In the 45th minute, Gallese produced an impressive double-save as Stian Gregersen had his header saved off the line and Xande Silva turned the rebound back on frame, but again Gallese palmed it away.

Orlando's attack continued to struggle in the second half against Atlanta's stout defense while the home side pushed for a second goal. After a series of threatening chances, Atlanta finally doubled its lead in the 71st minute. Lobjanidze received a pass on the right side near the halfway line, created space from his defender and played Brooks Lennon down the line. Lennon ran in behind Orlando's backline, cut the ball back while sending a defender sliding and played Giakoumakis who was stationed a few yards outside of the box. The Greek striker blasted a one-time shot that struck the inside of the crossbar and into goal for his fourth in two matches.

Giakoumakis nearly had a brace in the 81st minute. Caleb Wiley delivered a cross from the left side which Lobjanidze flicked on to the back post for a wide-open Giakoumakis, but his shot was lifted over the bar. Atlanta saw-out the remaining minutes and earned its first shutout of the season.

Atlanta United (2-1-0, 6 points) returns to action Saturday, March 23 when it travels to face Toronto FC at BMO Field

  • Associated Categories: Sports, Atlanta United
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